I want to tell you about a beer I had a couple weeks ago.
As usually happens when the weekend approaches, I got a flurry of texts and messages from local friends, dying for a pilgrimage to our local promised land, Beer Revolution. One of them was from new friend Brittany, met on Tumblr. We all follow Brittany, we all think she's wonderful, and we couldn't wait to meet her and Alana, her girlfriend. And where better to meet someone than Beer Revolution?
Beer Revolution. Think outdoor patio, think picnic benches, think big umbrellas and old oak barrels. Now imagine a door, a half-door, like a saloon. You walk through the revelers on the patio, through the little door, and are greeted by cacophony; never a quiet night at Beer Revolution. The space is small, maybe four barrel-tables full of friends bellying up on too-tall stools. There's a pleasant buzz of voices. It's warm. Dried hop vines trail across the ceiling. To your left are three huge refrigerators with sliding doors that often catch, holding a collection of some of the country's (and world's) best craft beer (they've always got my favorites.) To your right, the taps. Oh, the taps. Last I was there they had 47 different brews on tap, spanning the length and width of United States craft breweries, all at deeply reasonable prices. If you've ever been drinking in an SF Bay Area bar and paid $4 for a PBR and it was the cheapest beer on the menu and that made you hoppin' mad, the prices at Beer Revolution are going to astound you. And compared to The Trappist down the block, it's a downright bargain.
This beer, THE beer, is The Bruery's Autumn Maple. It's a seasonal Belgian-style brown ale, packed with roasted yams, maple, pumpkin pie spices, and the soft amber light of first leaf fall—must have been hard to bottle, that light. I should say straight away that I've never been one for Belgian beers. Or IPAs and barley wines, for that matter. Truthfully, I've always felt that Belgian beers taste too similar to artificial banana flavor. Judge away!
It's tough for a Belgian beer to garner my affection, but the Autumn Maple succeeds in ways that are difficult to quantify. The taste is like nothing I've ever encountered in an autumn seasonal, a genre so often plagued by tinny, shallow flavors or overwhelming, cloying sweetness. The Autumn Maple is instead rounded, deep, heady, a hint of barrel oak, the smokey sweetness of burning maple leaves, and maybe just a touch of pennies. Some will disagree, but do I love a bit of penny-flavor in my beer.
The Autumn Maple is best enjoyed on frigid, blustery nights curled up on a sofa with your favorite paperback, windows open just enough to catch the smell of rainfall on pavement. This will be my primary autumn-time beer for sure.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Last night I roasted a pan of vegetables (broccoli, green beans, brussel sprouts, yellow carrot) and cooked up some quick wild rice (wild rice, vegetable broth, soy sauce, dried shiitake, rosemary). As I was roasting and cooking I had a minor dinner freak-out. There’s no protein! What will we eat with our rice and vegetables!
I was rescued by broiled tofu. I flipped through Veganomicon (because I know Isa’s got my back), hunting for the quickest, dirtiest protein in the book. Something requiring minimal effort, few ingredients, and about 20 minutes of my time. So I settled on broiled tofu.
If you have never had broiled tofu, let me tell you something: it is a revelation. I am, generally speaking, loathe to cook up some tofu. Take that block, cut it up, serve it—no. Serving someone straight tofu, even if it’s just Michael and myself, as a vegan, is mortifying. It confirms people’s worst fears about vegan food, especially after the whole “Soy will give men boobs!” fiasco (totally false, by the way.) Broiled tofu is rich, chewy, hearty, and I'll say it again, relevatory. It will take and cherish all of your spice combinations. Plus it’s damn good over wild rice. Just sayin’.
Here’s how it works:
Take one pound block tofu, cut in half. With each half divide into fifths width-wise. You will have ten sizable squares. Cut them diagonally. Now you have 20 triangles.
In a small bowl mix 1/4 c water, 3 tbl lemon juice (about the juice of one lemon), 2 tbl soy sauce, 2-3 chopped cloves garlic. If you’re feeling fancy add 1 tsp sriracha, 1 tsp artisanal mustard (I know, I know.)
Dunk triangles in braising mix, then plunk into a cast iron skillet coated with a thin layer of olive oil. Put in broiler, set timer for 10 minutes. Open a beer. After 10 minutes pull skillet out, drizzle tofus with braising mix, and put back in broiler. Don’t worry about flipping these guys, by the way. Or if your kitchen fills up with smoke. Wait 3 minutes, remove skillet, drizzle rest of braising mix on tofu, put back into the broiler. Wait 3 more minutes. Remove skillet, place delicious tofu triangles on wild rice, observe success. Serves 4.
If you’re not sure on the whole wild rice thing, here’s what you need to do:
Take 1 c wild rice, put it in a pot. Take 3 c vegetable broth and 1 tbl soy sauce, put in pot with rice. Take about 1/2 c dried shiitake, slice them up, put them in same pot. Consider adding kombu if you have it on hand. I didn’t but I suspect it would be great.
Cook rice on high until boiling, then reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 40-45 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove lid of pot, let cook 5 minutes more. Fluff with fork. Serves 4.
I would have posted a picture but I ate it all. You’re just going to have to trust me.